Monday, January 23, 2017

Tales of Trial and Terror: Bubble, Bubble, Toiles and Troubles.

Mock ups (or toiles, pronounced twalls or twahls) are important when constructing a garment-- whether you're drafting your own pattern or testing the fit of a commercial one, they save you the trouble of screwing up on your main material.

I, among most seamstress', use muslin for these toiles. It's cheaper than most garment materials, it drapes like most garment materials, and most importantly it's blank and some variation of white so that any markings, stitching or glaring fitting errors are completely visible.

The problem is the life of my muslin toiles and its scraps ends when all of my corrections are made and done, which when you think about it... makes muslin seem like a waste of money and precious resources.

I count myself very lucky that I rarely need to make extensive corrections in order to justify the purchase and use of muslin; a little shortening here, a little tightening there... but, like now, there are times I actually need to make sure of the fit... well, the waste can be quite daunting. I hear some people even make up to 4 toiles before their end garment!

One toile results in this much scrap
Some of these people have solutions to their growing muslin collection. These people are smart and crafty with their muslin.
 These say use the final draft as the pattern, they say use it as stuffing or stabilizer or sew-in interfacing. These ideas are great, but they haven't exactly worked for my needs consistently leaving my muslins to take up space for very long intervals of time.

For the life of me I have never found a sustainable use for my muslin mocks; for my garment material scraps I have loads of uses because of the variation in fabric design and color, but muslin... meh... which is why I try to be very deliberate and conscientious about the use of it-- prompting this post.

I thought about dying them, maybe in the hopes of turning it into a garment I could wear... but the lack luster appearance of muslin on the whole doesn't pique my interest enough.
Dying it is still an idea, though.
With the news that many grocers will be transitioning to bagless down here in the South pretty soon, it got me to thinking... maybe I could stitch these dyed scraps together and make reusable totes? Perhaps I could even stamp and paint these in 'ol Hallowe'en fashion... hmm.

What would/do you do with muslin toiles?


  1. I feel this! I've only recently started doing muslin toiles, I used to use old bed sheets, or fabrics picked up cheap secondhand. Strangely muslin here costs as much as regular fabric because it's not as wide on the bolt. I found that disappointing and it adds to the cost of my project. I try to get it on the sale days. I make adjustments to the pattern and scrap the muslin. If the project is large I'll use the muslin for a smaller project next. If the toile is smaller I'll use the muslin in crafting afterwards. It's great for my folk art dolls. I'm not big on the idea of using it in garments because it's prone to shrinking and it feels coarse to me. I think it's better used in crafts.

    1. True enough, muslin is not entirely wearable-- I mean I've seen some dandy garments made from it, but I wonder how they hold up over the long term after several washings.

      That's unfortunate about the cost break down for you-- doesn't make sense, it should be the cheapest; fabric costs seem so arbitrary at times.

      Folk art dolls?! I'd love to see these!

  2. I sew my musselins from cheap fashion fabric. I may get a wearable musslin out of it. Or I use the lining fabric to tinker with the fit, and can still use it later on.

    As with Ladyfait, there is nearly no prize difference between musselin fabric and cheap fashion fabric. So, why not use the potentially wearable stuff?

    1. Well here, and the last two States I've lived in, muslin is the cheapest choice. The cheapest fashion fabric I have purchased was around $5-$8 with coupons and discounts. Muslin is around $4 full price for 37-38" wide unbleached, and with coupons I can usually get it down to about $1 a yard-- I stock up on it when these sales occur.

      I have been wanting to use a fabric that I could potentially wear, but I usually can't find a cheap fashion fabric that I envision myself wearing after mocking up, and to add toiles go through a lot of punishment-- tons of basting holes, heavy marks, accidental over cuts, and stitch ripping many times over. This particular one's lining is a disaster zone LOL.

  3. Cotton, correct? Stretch them on some canvas stretchers and gesso them. VOILA! Instant canvas. Sure, it won't be as thick as most canvas, but heck, the painting surface will end up smooth like glass. It just might be worth it.

    Or maybe embroidery?

    I do like the bag idea, so there's that.

  4. I've only ever done one muslin and that was for a wedding dress (not mine!). I generally just cut larger than I think I'll need in the fashion fabric and make adjustments on that. I'm afraid I can't throw anything away, and I'd have an entire bin of pieces of muslin that - like you - I'd never be able to find a use for. Bags are a great idea though!


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